Marriage Broker Sentenced To 19 Months Prison
San Francisco, CA
August 18, 2009
United States Department of Justice
United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello
Northern District of California
Federal Investigation Targeted San Francisco Broker Who Arranged Fake Marriages Between Chinese Citizens And American Citizens For Immigration Benefits
Kwan Tsoi also known as Joyce Cai was sentenced today to 19 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to forfeit $250,000 in proceeds for arranging fake marriages for immigration benefits, United States Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello, Diplomatic Security Service Special Agent in Charge Patrick Durkin, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Mark Wollman, announced.
According to court records and proceedings, Tsoi admitted that she was the leader of a conspiracy that between February 2007 and February 2008 arranged sham marriages between non-U.S. and U.S. citizens. Tsoi advertised in Chinese-language newspapers and charged approximately $30,000 to broker each marriage. Tsoi admitted as part of her guilty plea that she brokered nine marriages.
Tsoi also admitted that she submitted or aided in the submission of Spousal Petitions to the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, requesting that the Chinese citizens be issued “Green Cards” based on the fake marriages to the American citizens. In pleading guilty, Tsoi admitted that these nine marriages were fake and were performed to take advantage of immigration laws granting almost immediate “Green Cards” to foreign spouses who marry American citizens. Tsoi brokered these marriages in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco, where federal search warrants were served on her business in June 2008.
Tsoi pleaded guilty in April to one count of Conspiracy, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, six counts of Marriage Fraud, violations of 8 U.S.C. § 1325(c), and five counts of False Statements on Immigration Documents, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1546(a).
Tsoi was ordered by United States District Court Judge William H. Alsup to surrender for service of her prison sentence on Sept. 30.
“We take all violations of U.S. immigration laws seriously, but are especially aggressive in identifying and prosecuting those involved in marriage frauds and related scams,” U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Russoniello said. “People who attempt to profit from these ruses will be brought to justice. Those who knowingly avail themselves of these ploys will be caught and deported."
“The investigation is yet another example of the Diplomatic Security Service's vigilance in combating visa and passport fraud. We investigate multi-defendant criminal enterprises that broker in false visas, false immigration forms, and other false documents, to keep imposters and criminals out of the country,” Special Agent In Charge Patrick Durkin of the Diplomatic Security Service, San Francisco Field Office stated.
“Marriage fraud and other forms of immigration benefit fraud undermine the integrity of our nation's legal immigration system and potentially rob deserving immigrants of benefits they rightfully deserve,” said Special Agent In Charge Wollman of the ICE Office of Investigations in San Francisco. “This sentence should send a clear message that ICE is working aggressively to target those who conspire to corrupt our nation's proud immigration tradition for the sole purpose of enriching themselves.”
Also charged in this investigation were Henry Navarro and Kelly Ecker.
Navarro pleaded guilty to one felony count of the Conspiracy for his role in being an official and recorded witness to one fake marriage. Navarro is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Alsup on September 29, 2009.
Ecker pleaded guilty to one related misdemeanor count of the Conspiracy for her role in marrying a Chinese citizen for a fee of $17,000. On July 7, 2009, Ecker was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to give a public speech to deter others from participating in fake marriages.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nat Cousins and Allison Danner prosecuted the case, with the assistant of Rosario Calderon. The prosecution is the result of a two-year investigation by Diplomatic Security Service and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.